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Man is touching the display of a TOUGHBOOK 33fixed in a HAVIS docking station

Creating a Vehicle Docking Station – The Power of Partnership

Written by Willie McGregor – European Sales Manager for Havis

Creating a Vehicle Docking Station

The Power of Partnership

Rugged mobile computing devices play an essential role for many mobile workforces in carrying out their duties. Whether its emergency response workers, warehouse and logistics operators or field workers for utility companies, it’s important to have the right device for the task at hand.

But alongside the right device, ensuring the workforce can use it effectively whilst on the move is another essential consideration in delivering productivity and efficiencies.

With many mobile workers spending much of their time in a vehicle, ensuring the device has a safe and effective docking station is an important step in getting the most from the workforce and its computing power.

Sounds simple, right? But it’s only when you start to look at the practical and regulatory requirements of installing docking stations in vehicles that the challenges begin to emerge. Most companies do not have a single type of vehicle – they can range from different makes of car, van and lorry through to forklifts - therefore the ability to position and install the docking station has to be carefully considered.

The docking station has to be quick and intuitive to use, so that the user can quickly connect and disconnect their device and any peripherals. Often the device needs to be able to be docked using just one hand, so easy docking and connections need to be built in. It has to be lightweight, yet hard wearing and safe, with rounded rather than sharp edges, and it must pass the rigorous safety tests and regulations for installing docking station in cars.

No wonder then that there are a small number of specialists that have emerged in this area. For more than three decades, Havis has provided rugged and dependable docking   stations to support Panasonic TOUGHBOOK devices. Over those years, Havis has learned the unique needs of mobile workers, as well as the high standards that Panasonic expects of itself and its partners.

One of the most recent challenges began in the Summer of 2019, when we began developing a new docking station to support the new fully rugged TOUGHBOOK A3  Android tablet.

Havis vehicle dock for TOUGHBOOK A3 mounted on a forklift truck

Working with Panasonic team members in Japan, Europe, and the United States, Havis learned the unique use cases of the A3 tablet and its key features.

Using a rigorous development process, numerous design reviews, and extensive validation testing, Havis and Panasonic collaborated to create the best possible solution for A3 users.

Two examples of the benefits of this approach can be seen in the final design; one that’s quite obvious and the other much more subtle. A key feature of the TOUGHBOOK A3 is the optional barcode reader, which mounts to the device in a location that would have been optimal for the latch mechanism of the docking station. Normally, the dock’s latch handle would be a solid piece that would have blocked the barcode reader. Through the design review process, Havis and Panasonic identified a path forward where simply creating an opening in the latch handle preserved full functionality of the bar code reader.  

The second example of clever collaboration is unlikely to be detected by even the most discerning eye. The TOUGHBOOK A3 has a pair of pockets which are used to align with locators in the docking station. Havis took cues from Panasonic to introduce mirrored notches in the dock’s locators that prevent reverse docking.  This ensures that the connections are always properly made between the tablet and the docking station, ensuring the full functionality of the solution each time the device is docked.

The result: A fully-rugged, TOUGHBOOK Certified docking station that supports the A3 in warehousing, transportation, logistics, public safety, and other demanding environments.

The Havis DS-PAN-1400 Series of docking stations for the TOUGHBOOK A3 works with all device configurations and options, including integrated bar code reader, extended battery, smart card reader, and hand strap. It preserves access to all device buttons and ports when the tablet is docked. It also offers one-handing docking, a spring-loaded connector head to maintain contact with the tablet at all times, and Panasonic certified port replication.

By closely partnering from the early stages of development to the finish line, Panasonic and Havis have given the market a powerful and versatile solution.

 

View the range of Havis vehicle docks for TOUGHBOOK devices.

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